For the last several years, the Book Doctors - husband and wife publishing industry vets David Sterry and Arielle Eckstut - have been teaching people how to get their books published. Tonight at Porter Square Books, they'll stage a Pitchapalooza, the event they invented in which prospective authors will pitch their book ideas in front of a roomful of strangers. I called Eckstut at her office in New Jersey to find out what's what.
Why do so many people want to subject themselves to the humiliation of talking about a potentially stupid book idea in public?
I don't think it's that. So many people out there dream of riting a book. Some of them are writers, some of them aren't. They might have a business, they might be a chef, but they want to get their message out in some way. Up until this point in history, it's been so difficult to penetrate the world of publishing. It's been like a castle with a big moat around it, and you needed to know the right person to get in.
The world has changed drastically in the past few years, with ebooks and print on demand and self-publishing, etc. I think all of this has penetrated into the zeitgeist and people see that there's an opportunity to be heard.
But what if you have this terrible pitch and you don't even know it's hilariously bad but everybody else does and they laugh at you?
The people who come are all people with the same dream. There's no cruelty. We don't believe in that as judges, either. We believe that whatever stage you're at, we'll make it better. We're not going to tell you that your book will never get published or that you have a terrible outfit on. It's not like reality television.
Whenever we have guest judges, they always think that it's going to be horrible and that they'll hear the worst pitches. Always, without exception, they leave the event reinvigorated with their love of publishing. You see the passion that people have and you hear so many good ideas.
What are some of the ideas you've heard at Pitchapalooza that have gone out in the world?
Although we've been doing these for the last five years, it's only in the last year that we've been doing these very often, so none of the books are out yet. But three deals have happened in the last six weeks.
One woman is an arborist, and she's done a book called "The Little Fruit Tree Book" about planting fruit trees in your back yard. . . Then we have two Muslim-American women who have written a book called "Love InshAllah," an anthology of Muslim-American women's dating stories. . . Lastly, we have a woman named Gennifer Albin who got a high six-figure, three-book deal for her YA dystopia series.
So what happens when someone goes to Pitchapalooza?
The winner gets an introduction to a publisher that is appropriate for their book. But "The Little Fruit Tree Book" wasn't a winner - she was a participant - but I just the idea for her book and thought she was great. Anyone who buys a copy of our book gets a free, 20-minute consultation, so we had our consultation and I told her I loved it and I wanted to introduce her to the perfect publisher, and I did, and she got a deal.
PITCHAPALOOZA | Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Cambridge | November 10 @ 7pm | free | 617.491.2220 or portersquarebooks.com